Legislature

2013-14 Hawai`i Legislature

2014 Activity

In 2014, only one of several 2014 geothermal regulatory bills survived until late in the session.

SB2663 was heard and amended by the House Committees on Energy and Environmental Protection and Water and Land (Stand. Com. Rep. No. 1114-14) and amended (SB2663 SD2 HD 1.)  The amendments included eliminating mandatory mediation, restoring contested cases and adding a fracking ban.  Then the bill was considered by a conference committee where it died without a vote.

Additional 2014 bills included HB2639, originally a short form bill with added language (HD1) virtually identical to the original SB2663, heard bby the House Committees on Energy and Environmental Protection and Water and Land where it was recommended that the measure be passed with amendments (i.e., adding several standards to the procedure, removing mediation but not allowing contested cases, HD2.)  On February 20, 2014, the House Finance Committee recommended that the measure be deferred (meaning the bill will not proceed.)  HB1766, introduced by Rep. Hanohano, to affect statutory provisions repealed by Act 97 (by restoring the geothermal resource subzones and establishing a permitting process for geothermal resources development) also would require BLNR and the counties to implement the recommendations of the 2013 Final Report of the Geothermal Public Health Assessment Study Group prior to issuing future geothermal development permits.  However, on Thursday February 13,2014, the House Committees on Energy and Environmental Protection recommended that the measure be deferred (meaning the bill will not proceed.)  A Senate version of the same bill, SB3021, introduced by Sen. Ruderman and others, was referred to a joint hearing in the Senate Committees on  Energy and Environment, Water and Land and Public Safety, Intergovernmental and Military Affairs but no hearing was scheduled (meaning the bill did not proceed.) 

Note: The 2013 Final Report of the Geothermal Public Health Assessment Study Group should be recognized as affirming community members' expressed positions on public health and safety issues.  The Report was initiated by Hawai`i County and embraced by its pro-geothermal mayor (promising its recommendations will be funded by the Planning Commission: “We want to ensure that the public safety and public health is paramount,” he said, “We need to determine with accuracy and specify exactly what harm if any is being caused.”)  It describes and validates public health and safety concerns and makes recommendations addressing those matters.  The government-sponsored study on geothermal development in the only place where it has been experienced in Hawai`i should be given due weight by Legislators concerned with public health and safety in energy policy. 

SB2940, introduced by Sen. Ruderman and others to prohibit geothermal fracking in Hawai`i, was heard on Wednesday February 12, 2014, in a joint hearing of the Senate Committees on Water and Land and Energy and Environment. where it was recommended that it be passed (SD1.)  A companion House bill, HB2359, introduced by Rep. Hanohano, was heard on February 13, 2014, by a joint hearing in the House Committees on Energy and Environmental Protection and Water and Land where it was recommended that the measure be passed with amendments (i.e., a three year sunset provision; HD1).  Neither bill was scheduling for their next committee hearings (meaning the bills will not proceed.)  

2013 Activity

HB106, originally introduced to repeal Act 97, had wide support.  On its way through three House committees it was amended to remove geothermal subzones and was passed over to the Senate.  At a hearing on March 21, 2013, before the Senate Committees on Energy and Environment (ENE), Water and Land (WTL) and Public Safety (PSM), House Bill 106 was deferred.

On April Fools Day the Senate Committees on Tourism and Hawaiian Affairs and Judiciary and Labor unexpectedly amended HB252, that pertained to the Native Hawaiian roll commission, by adding language providing for permitting geothermal development.  On April 9, 2013, HB252 was the subject of a floor amendment that removed mediation provisions.  On April 11, 2013, HB252 passed the Third Reading in the Senate and was transmitted to House as amended.  Conference Draft #1 reinserted the mediation language removed by Senator Ruderman’s Senate floor amendment.  On April 26th, being unable to reach an agreement, the conference committee deferred HB252.